How important are awards?

September 23rd, 2016

awardsI was thrilled to be asked to judge one of the categories in the IoIC awards 2016, earlier in the summer, and tonight I’m attending the awards evening. No doubt it will be a fantastic night, celebrating the very best in internal communications.

But it got me thinking, how important are awards? It could be easy to dismiss them as a self-congratulatory, back-packing exercise, or a great thing to list on your CV. And of course, as with any type of award, you’re only judging what’s been entered, so there could be a world of other first-class examples that you never get to see. Compelling points, but I think there’s more to it than that.

Of course it’s always nice to win, but as I was judging my category, it struck me, just how much effort had gone into putting the award entries together (some of them covered the entire surface of my dining table!). I remember years ago when I did my IoIC diploma, I had to submit a portfolio of my work. At the end of it, I was surprised and impressed with just how much good stuff I’d actually done – something that’s easy to forget when you have your head down getting on with whatever work has your focus on that given day. I imagine these award entrants must have also felt the same sense of satisfaction and even a renewed sense of confidence, not to mention a boost in team morale. Other than for an award entry, how often to people take the time to step back and take stock of what they’ve achieved? Awards provide a valuable opportunity to look back and evaluate not just the good, but the bad (and what you learnt from it).

Awards also help set an industry benchmark. It’s typical for award winners to present at conferences, sharing the knowledge and good practice that set them on a path to internal comms glory. As an industry that prides itself on sharing expertise and helping each other out, it’s a great way to learn from some of the very best and to replicate that success in our own organisations. It’s also a great way to get a realistic and practical view of what goes on in companies – not everyone is implementing the latest technology, plenty of comms pros are doing brilliant things with small budgets and disparate workforces. I don’t think I’m alone in coming away from internal comms award ceremonies and conferences feeling inspired and bursting with new ideas.

Finally, I think awards can also give us credibility to those outside of internal communications. We often talk about how we’re marketing’s poor cousin, and how we need to do a PR exercise on ourselves. By being able to say, “Actually, we’re an award winning team of internal communicators” or “I have xx amount of years of experience, and last year I won an award for the change programme I rolled out”, can go a long way. Of course, there will always be those that remain unimpressed, but don’t underestimate the power of peer recognition, when trying to get a seat at the top table.

You may have noticed that I’ve avoided saying a certain old adage, in an attempt to not come across as cheesy, however, in conclusion, I think it’s important to recognise that whether you win or not, there’s still a lot to celebrate.

So that just leaves me to say congratulations to everyone that entered for some truly incredible pieces of work, and of course – good luck! I look forward to celebrating with you all this evening!

Categories: Awards

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“Helen’s passion for her profession shines through very clearly and she manages to combine her deep knowledge of internal communications with a mix of pragmatism and fresh thinking. She is a delight to work with and has a high level of integrity.”

Richard Fitzmaurice, TMF Group